In the past few years, we’ve seen the gold, silver and bronze medalists of ‘90s Australian Alternative Rock (ie. Silverchair, Powderfinger and Grinspoon – in whichever order you see fit) go on “indefinite hiatus”. Couple this with the fact that, for a while now, rock music in general has been on the backburner of the zeitgeist and things have been looking pretty grim for the faithful old electric guitar. Fear not, however, as the band that arguably JUST missed out on a spot on the alt-rock dais are alive and kicking in their 20th year together.
Melbourne’s Something For Kate celebrate two decades as a band with the 20th Anniversary Best-Of Selection – a 21-track collection showcasing their evolution from a post-grunge power-trio to one of the greatest songwriting vehicles in Australian music history. First things first – from a fan’s perspective, it seems like a compilation of this ilk is a bit of a shameless cash-grab from the floundering major-label model of which Something For Kate caught the death rattle at the turn of the century. Back in 2007, another Best-of set was released in the form of The Murmur Years: The Best of Something for Kate 1996 – 2007 and of that comprehensive two-disc set, 15 of the 21 tracks on the 20th Anniversary Best-Of Selection are double-ups.
Not for a second does this diminish the talents Paul Dempsey and co. His inimitable plaintive growl (Check out his recent acoustic cover of Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball if you aren’t sold) and his raw, heartfelt honesty as a writer cemented his place as one of the finest songsmiths Australia has ever known long ago. It’s just a bummer that fans are expected to shell out a third time for a set of songs they’ve known and loved for years.
That being said, all the hits are present on this latest anniversary collection. Opening up with Captain (Million Miles an Hour) from their 1997 debut Elsewhere For 8 Minutes and closing with Miracle Cure from the band’s most recent studio set Leave Your Soul To Science, the 20th Anniversary Best-of Selection is as much a loving retrospective for fans as it is a solid enough starting point for newcomers.
The dissonant chromatic stabs of Electricity cut as hard as they originally did on Beautiful Sharks back in 1999 and the misanthropic masterpiece of 2001’s Monsters remains one of the most honest songs Something For Kate (and Australia as a whole for that matter) has ever produced. Whatever You Want and Say Something are, as ever, similarly disarming and Déjà Vu has all the powerful melancholy upon which Something For Kate built their stellar legacy.
Whether you’re standing in a record store with this collection in your hand or tentatively hovering your cursor over the “Buy” button on iTunes, chances are there’s at least one song on here that means something to you. At the same time, chances are you have that song in your library already so the 20th Anniversary Best-Of Selection is a little unnecessary. If, on the other hand, you missed the Something For Kate boat and are looking to catch up, The Murmur Years concludes with an incredible cover of Born To Run so you’re possibly better off picking it up instead.